CCM: Training Plan

Today’s a strength training day, so it seems like a good time to spell out my training plan in a little more detail.

I start with some core principles:

  • Endurance is the key to marathon running, and long runs are the best way to build endurance.  It doesn’t matter how fast your 5K time is if you can’t run 26.2 miles.
  • You’re better off a little undertrained than overtrained.  It’s more important to go into your marathon rested than it is to train as hard as you can before the race.
  • You’re not a world-class runner.  This isn’t a job.  It’s supposed to be fun.

Lately, my marathons have all been done off endurance, with only a little speedwork.  But age is eating into my natural speed, so I want to work in a little more intensity to see whether I can earn some of it back.  If I’m going to do that, I need to do it carefully to avoid injury.

I’ll work in four week cycles, with three training weeks followed by a rest week.  Here’s the basic plan for each week:

  • Monday: rest/strength training
  • Tuesday: hills/intervals
  • Wednesday: long bike ride (30+ miles)
  • Thursday: Tempo/marathon pace runs
  • Friday: rest/strength training
  • Saturday: long run
  • Sunday: shorter bike ride (20 or less)

I’ll do 20 miles or more for my long run in weeks 1 and 3, backing off to a 12-15 mile run on week 2 and around 10 on the rest week.  I’d like to get a couple of longer-than-marathon runs in before September, but I’ll cut back on the length of my long runs as the race approaches.

I’ve been using the four week cycles for years, after reading about them in Jeff Galloway’s Book on Running.  Galloway also includes marathon-plus runs, but I take them farther than he recommends, do more of them, and do them earlier in the schedule so my longest training runs aren’t just before the race.

I’m replacing some of my shorter, easier, daily runs with cross-training to cut down on the repetitive stress, so I can work harder without overdoing it.  That’s similar to the Furman Institute’s FIRST training plan, as detailed in their book Run Less, Run Faster.  The main difference between my plan and the Furman plan is that I won’t do quite as much high intensity running, but my long runs will be longer and I’ll do more miles on the bike than they recommend.

I’m currently finishing up week 1 of my first four-week cycle.  There’s time for four cycles before the marathon.  The last one ends with two weeks of tapering, and then it’s race day!

This plan adds a little more bulk to my routine, and allows me to ratchet up the intensity and try to get some speed back, hopefully without getting hurt.  It may not be the best possible plan.  Who can know for sure what that would be?   But it’s different from what I’ve been doing, especially the biking, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

(strength training; 3 mi bike; 148#)

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